December 23, 2021 By arne hendriks Off

In 2014 The Incredible Shrinking Man picked up on a story about Japanese McDonalds restaurants resorting to only selling small fries because of a frozen potato shortage. It seemed like a good idea. Now the Makudo’s or Makku’s, as they are called in Japan, are again faced with a french fry shortage. And again, as in 2014, the answer is a fry-denial policy. Medium and Large portions are momentarily of the menu. But unlike us, customers are not happy.

The shortage is the result of the fragile complexities of the global supply chain. The particular potatoes for the ‘French’ fries served in Japanese Makku’s come through the harbour of Vancouver where floods as a result of climate change interrupted regular shipment. Although analysis of the particular reasons for the shortage are interesting and worthwhile and allows us to despair or snicker at the world we’re creating, it also distracts us from the real issue.

Rather than look at the potato shortage from the perspective of the problem, we should approach it from the perspective of the solution. The problems being scarcity and complexity, the solution being smallness. Again, like in so many other situations, it is smallness that allows us to see that the problem is not so much the fact that we don’t have enough or that we should organise things differently and more efficiently, but that we need smaller appetites. Shrink the fries, shrink the problems.